2017 HR Infinite Mile Recipients

2017 HR Infinite Mile Recipients

Congratulations to the 2017 Award Recipients!

See a gallery of photos from the May 19, 2017 Infinite Mile ceremony.

Pauline Dowell

I’m delighted to kick it off by recognizing the HR colleagues who will receive the Infinite Mile Award for Initiative & Customer Focus. Our first recipient is a problem solver, an emergency fixer, a go-to resource and colleague known for her ability to get things done. She is always willing to help with time-sensitive projects and always goes the extra mile in anticipating issues before they arise, taking care of her colleagues in HR and beyond. No detail is ever overlooked, she takes initiative, and is always prepared for what is to come. She makes every flyer, poster, postcard, and PDF come to life with her imaginative designs and drawings. And she’s now known as our department’s own process mapping guru.

Yes, I’m talking about Pauline Dowell … Pauline, please come on up and receive your award.


Raquel Irons

Our second recipient in this category is known for developing strong relationships with her clients to better understand their work, needs, and culture – which helps in building stronger departmental communities. In addition to her client work, she is in a position that resolves highly sensitive complaints. These complaints involve a lot of collaboration, working with various customers to ensure a thorough and fair investigation. This colleague is known for delivering difficult news and is always thoughtful – thinking about all the parties involved and the impact of what has occurred. It’s hard to not give away any clues with this type of work, but let’s just say that all of her customers benefit from her grace and understanding and always kind manner. Time to let you know who this is … Raquel Irons, please come on up and receive your award.


People Matters Conference Core HR Team

The last Infinite Mile Award for Initiative and Customer Focus goes to a team. I don’t want to give it away immediately so let me describe what each did without specific attribution:

To say this colleague owned this project would be an understatement -- as she lived and breathed it from inception to months afterward. She was a wizard at aligning people to projects that played to their strengths. And what was particularly noteworthy was her ability to be respectful of others through all types of interactions.

Another colleague was the go-to person for a slew of responsibilities that are too numerous to mention. There was no prescription guide for what we were doing as it had never been done before (that’s a clue!). This colleague always remained calm under pressure and was a role model for other colleagues.

The third colleague provided terrific support to the team, going above and beyond, to deliver a fantastic experience. She was given a lot of tasks that aren’t always glamourous and her fulfilling them resulted in a very successful event.

In closing, the nominator notes it was an honor to work with them all and through their collective magic, it was a wonderful day for MIT’s HR practitioners.

Time for Alyce Johnson, Theresa Howell, and Maura Rizzuto to collect their award for the People Matters Conference Core HR Team!


Maria Barrios

Individuals in the category of Everyday Leadership exhibit the mind-set and behaviors of a leader, regardless of their position. They promote respect and collaboration in all of their interactions, and promote the success of others. In the case of this individual recipient, she did so for a project that was well outside of her role.

It started with a wonderful idea for the Excellence Awards – to provide translated nomination materials, so that non-native speakers could submit nominations, and the program could be more accessible to all MIT staff. As we tried to identify which languages and how to reach people, we contacted staff around HR. From that first meeting, Maria was completely on-board - seeing the need because of her own interactions. She offered to translate outreach materials, offered to translate nominations coming back to us, and to help with getting materials into staff hands. Though we did use a vendor for some of our translating work, we simply had to utilize her for nominations coming back to us, and for "in-house" help. Do you know what a translation service charges for a short email requesting more information?  Me neither, because Maria would drop what they were doing to follow-up on a question. And likely knew the nominator already, because every year, she coordinates an open enrollment information session for Facilities staff at 11pm to accommodate employees who work second shift - so that employees receive the benefits information they need to make informed decisions.  

One of the most important parts of Everyday Leadership is the idea of making someone else successful.  This individual made the translation process successful for the Excellence Awards, certainly, but her interest always had to do with the success of the nominators and nominees, and the interest in making an MIT program a little more open to everyone.

Thanks and congratulations to Maria Barrios, for her Everyday Leadership award!


HR Fun Committee

The award being presented is for Collaboration and Community Building and a few of the considerations for this award are as follows:

  • Ensures different points of view are considered and maintains sense of community.
  • Provides honest feedback.
  • Is not afraid to change course.
  • Shares knowledge and experiences for a more impactful outcome.
  • Leverages network for future projects.

Before the big reveal, I just want to share with you what the nominators had to say about this group. Since its inception at the beginning of this year, the team has played a prominent and vital role in building and strengthening our HR community.”  Another nominator had this to say about the group, “…I am appreciative of this group’s efforts to generate positive energy and good feeling around the office. They are wonderfully creative, and have come up with a variety of events. We all have those days when we feel overwhelmed or frustrated ... and then the committee comes along with a little pick-me-up and a chance to break out of a rut!”

Without further delay can we invite Dyan Madrey, Cori Champagne, Margie Fereirra, Mae Jones, Kathy Kasabula and Melissa Kavlakli up here and let’s give a round of applause for the HR FUN Committee!


Marlene Lewis

The Innovating and Improving award captures the essence of what we do in HR; we provide innovative solutions, implement new methods, services, or technologies to meet the needs of our customers. This award is for the problem-solvers, the risk-takers and when those around them see problems, they see solutions.

Our first awardee is just that type of individual. Their many years in private industry allowed her to come to HR and apply some of their experience (aka problem solving expertise) to create new and successful approaches which greatly benefited the disabilities services team. Nominators described her as “innovative, efficient, energetic, a collaborator, committed, and customer-orientated.”  This individual has improved data security, switched a paper-based practice into a streamlined online process which has reduced time and confusion. Let’s also not forget the fantastic pot-luck luncheon she organized ... come on up Marlene Lewis!

Thank you Marlene, we know that the Disability Services team greatly appreciate the work that you’ve done as well as everyone else you have collaborated with across the office.


Scott Rolph

Our final award today goes to another individual in the Innovating and Improving award category. His nominators outlined a number of highly visible and impactful efforts over the last year that are changing the culture across the Institute. These efforts have required creative problem-solving, innovative thinking, risk-taking and navigating a diverse set of stakeholders. He developed and delivered a comprehensive customer service training program for the customer service team at the new Atlas Center; re-vamped the content of a huge number of the training workshops and created a Career Planning Guide that will be used by department’s senior leaders to promote career development.

A second nominator was hugely appreciative of his efforts on the Strategic Talent Management team, referring to him as “… a team player, sharing responsibilities, considering the big picture and acting as a resource to other team members.” Congratulations to Scott Rolph!